Dealing with Collection Agencies - Understanding wage garnishment and how to make it stop

Chris Welker discusses wage garnishment and explains how you can make it stop.

How can I get a collection agency to stop calling?

You need to do one of the following:

What are the rules collection agencies must follow?

The Collection Agencies Act outlines rules collection agencies must follow and is regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

A collection agency:

  • Must wait six days to contact you after sending you written notice of the name of the creditor, the balance owing and the name of the agency and its authority to demand payment
  • May not continue to contact you if notice was not received
  • May not suggest to you that a matter can be handled outside of court, if you send a registered letter disputing the debt
  • May not use threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language, or use undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure
  • May not provide false or misleading information to any person
  • Must first send you notice, before recommending to a creditor that legal action be taken against you
  • May only contact your employer on one occasion to obtain your employment information
  • Cannot contact partners, relatives or friends to obtain your contact information, unless that person has guaranteed the debt

A collection agency not contact you:

  • If they have been notified by registered mail to communicate only with your lawyer
  • On a holiday or Sunday, except between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m
  • After initial verbal contact, more than three times in seven days without your consent (mail contact is excluded)
  • If they have been notified that you are not the debtor they are looking for

If a collection agency has engaged in any of these prohibited acts, you may file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Branch.

What is wage garnishment?

If you owe money to your creditors and do not make payments your creditors may take legal action against you. The result of this legal action is something called a judgement. A judgment is a court order that allows your creditors to deduct payments directly from your wages and to seize assets.

How do I prevent or stop creditors from garnisheeing my wages?

Filing a Debt Management Plan with a credit counsellor does not stop wage garnishment. However, the following actions stop wage garnishment even if the process has already begun:

  • Making a consumer proposal
  • Filing personal bankruptcy
  • Paying creditors in full

Who is vulnerable to wage garnishment?

Anyone that receives employment income and/or owns property.

Who is not vulnerable to wage garnishment?

Anyone that doesn’t receive employment income and doesn’t own property. E.g.: people receiving pension income (disability, CPP, OAS etc.). These people are often referred to as being “creditor proof” or “judgment proof”. Just because creditors may not be able to garnishee your wages does not mean you’re free of creditor harassment, it simply means that your creditors cannot collect money from you by legal means at this time.

More Topics

Find out more about your situation. Jump to a different topic below.

Consumer Proposals

A consumer proposal is a formal debt settlement option legislated under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and is filed with a licensed trustee in bankruptcy. This option stops further creditor action and allows your debts to be compromised.

Bankruptcy

Filing personal bankruptcy allows you to be released from most of your debts. It is a formal process under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and is filed by a licensed trustee in bankruptcy.

Consolidation Loans

Debt Consolidation Loans are a popular debt management option for people who are experiencing money problems. Consolidation Loans consolidate your personal debts into one monthly payment, reduce interest charges and will not damage your credit rating.

Credit Counselling

Credit Counsellors can help you with budgeting and money management, filing a Debt Management Plan or by helping you communicate with your creditors. It typically makes sense to use a credit counsellor if you have a relatively small amount of debt.

Rebuilding Credit

Credit rating is a fluid concept and is always changing. No matter what you do, including filing personal bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, you can always rebuild your credit rating.